The Basics of Choosing a College

Although everything else in your life seems complicated at the moment, picking a college really comes down to some simple concepts. The steps you’ll need to take include learning the ABCs of getting started, familiarizing yourself with the basic types of college choices, understanding the college application process, and knowing your options once you’ve made your choice.


Apparently, a whole lot of people got together one day and decided they would pick the prom king and queen of higher education. But don’t make the mistake of allowing your ultimate college choice to come down to an opinion in a magazine you never even read. Rankings provide great publicity for the few colleges that get selected as the “best,” but in the end, the only judgment that matters is your own. You wouldn’t let a group of reporters choose your next boyfriend or girlfriend. Letting them choose your next college might not be such a wise move, either.

Oh, the Advice You’ll Receive

Think the national media has a monopoly on college opinions? Not to worry, because if you haven’t heard from them already, pretty soon your parents, friends, and teachers will more than likely share their opinions with you on what makes a college great. One of the most difficult things you’ll have to do, in fact, is gently remind all those well-wishing advisors that you’re not just looking for the best college.

You’re looking for the right college.

By all means, take all the advice you can get, but take it all with a grain of salt. Start a list of all the people whose opinions matter to you and seek out their advice. This will usually include your parents, your siblings, your classmates, your teachers, and your high school guidance counselor. But think of this advice as a starting point.

Once you’ve got a list of colleges, start thinking about what kind of college you’d like to attend and ask yourself, “What qualities am I looking for in a school?” What follows is a guide to the many types of schools out there, and how to decide if any of them are right for you.

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